Yesterday Sandria Washington posted a video about a woman coming to terms with feeling too tall most of her life. I reflected on feeling too tall, not wanting to wear heels, feeling like I just took up too much space. I realized that for probably more than half of my 40 years I have not loved you, my body.
Early on you were too much. You were too tall, too much boob, too much leg, just too much for a teen to deal with. I didn’t know how to walk in the glory that was you. You made me afraid when you called attention to me that I didn’t want and that I couldn’t process. You made me look like a woman when I was still very much a girl. Part of me still hates you for that.
In early adulthood I didn’t pay enough attention to you. I didn’t revel in youth, freedom, or in a beauty that I had no idea I possessed. I was busy learning how to be an adult. Learning how to find my passion. I took you for granted. I didn’t celebrate you.
Then, in the wrong marriage, that came with the wrong kind of love, I did my best to diminish you, to not draw too much attention to you. He would become annoyed and angry when too many men noticed me. So I tried to not shine too brightly because the better I felt about you and I the worse he felt about himself and then the worse my world became.
Then mini humans arrived. With each pregnancy I marveled in your strength. In all of this magic that you had. Feeling like a goddess. Making a life. Birth and breast-feeding were just the beginning. Being a mother transformed how I looked at you. You no longer belonged just to me. How I thought about you no longer belonged just to me. How I talked about you no longer belonged just to me. In fact,I began to no longer really understand what me was. I was lost between mother and woman. Searching for ways to join them.
I had always felt like I had taken up too much space. Too big, too loud, too bright. And now here you and I were, me and my body, bigger and bolder. Somehow I started to focus just on what I thought were your imperfections. It wasn’t even that I struggled to find my own beauty, I just stopped looking for it. I stopped looking at you. As depression often does the cycle spun around and around, feeding upon itself. The darkness became darker.
Without knowing how we got there, there we were. You and I. In a rut. Depressed. Feeling more than alone.
Not feeling strong or powerful or beautiful. Feeling functional at best.
Then an amazing thing happened.
David Anthony Geary
put down his paint brushes and picked up a camera. He took some pictures of me and I saw myself differently. I saw some woman who looked pretty dope. I saw rolls that I hated looking like soft love. I saw arms that made homes for mini humans. I saw feet that could dance away pain. I saw a belly that has never been flat but always been a magnet for 3 year olds to burry their faces in, full of tears or crashing in for a hug.
And I saw sexy.
For the first time in a long time I saw sexy.
I saw the small of my back arching. I saw a butt that babies helped me grow. I saw breasts that after 3 nursing children finally were mine again.
I saw hips that could sway to any beat. And thick thighs that could save lives.
7 years ago, I trusted someone to show me, you. And you and I have never been the same.
More recently the amazing Janice Bond let me stand in front of her lens. I spent an entire day. Naked. Dancing when she played music. Jumping to the sky. Spinning. Leaping. Loving all of me. I felt a freedom that was an epiphany. I unleashed you, my perfectly imperfect body and it was glorious.
I’m sorry for not seeing you sooner. For not running naked in water fountains in college. Or for being afraid of wearing 5 inch heels. I’m sorry for not pampering you, thinking that only single digit sizes deserved attention. I’m sorry for speaking about you with less than loving words. For not letting you dance more often. For turning the lights off when we made love.
I’m sorry for hating you.
Thank you for always loving me.
I don’t have to promise to love you. Because I already do. Immensely.
I do promise to say nice things to you more often.
I promise to stand in the Mirror and look at you.
Fresh out the shower and tell you that your jiggle is marvelous.
I promise to wear spanx less often
To let you breathe
To not try and conform you into a body type you aren’t
I promise to wear a bikini every summer
They are not just for a size 4
Your belly deserves to be summer brown too.
I promise to eat more veggies and drink
To find ways to move daily.
Even if it’s just doing a Cumbia down the aisles at Target.
I promise to get more massages
Use great products
Take more nude photos
And to leave the lights on when we get busy.
I promise to not spend the next 50 or more years hating you, reminiscing on youth long gone
But to be grateful for every day I have you, my body.